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The Riddle of the Wren

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  1,600 ratings  ·  70 reviews
Minda Sealy is afraid of her own nightmares. Then, one night, while asleep, she meets Jan, the Lord of the Moors, who has been imprisoned by Ildran the Dream-master-the same being who traps Minda. In exchange for her promise to free him, Jan gives Minda three tokens. She sets out, leaving the safety of her old life to begin a journey from world to world, both to save Jan a ...more
Paperback, 295 pages
Published September 16th 2002 by Firebird (first published 1984)
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Average rating 3.85  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,600 ratings  ·  70 reviews

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Aug 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was another excellent folklore/fantasy take by de Lint. Minda's ordinary life is changed when she becomes haunted by disturbing nightmares. She meets who she considers a magical being in one of her dreams, who assists her in defeating her nightmares, in exchange for her agreement to free him from the stone he's trapped in. Minda sets off on a journey among many worlds and learns of the great power that lies within her.

What I loved about Minda were her flaws. She felt realistic because she i
Mark R.
"The Riddle of the Wren" is a lively, fast-paced adventure about a young girl discovering her abilities to travel between worlds. She finds herself in a dream-place, and encounters a mysterious and friendly individual who advises her that an evil force is tracking her between dimensions.

This is the first book by Charles de Lint, and my introduction to him. "Wren" is quick, at three hundred pages; there's so much action and an abundance of characters and strange names, enough for a book three tim
Apr 14, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy, 2020
What an odd book. It was like an unexpected combination of Gaelic-feel folklore and sci-fi. Not my usual cup of tea, but the book had been sitting on my shelf forever. Overall, the book wasn't terribly descriptive so I had a hard time placing the characters in their environment and imagining what they were doing. Especially the "power" the characters fought with. It was too vague to be impactful. It was just strange, I can't think of another way to say it. ...more
Jul 05, 2009 rated it liked it
Charles de Lint is one of the major writers of what has come to be termed 'urban fantasy'. My current goal is to pick some key sf/fantasy writers and read their works from earliest to most current. This might not be the brightest idea I've ever had: Many, if not most, writers grow into their work over time, particularily if they've done a large body of work.

The Riddle of the Wren (De Lint's first book in terms of when he started writing) is a case in point. It's a competently written standard c
Apr 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviews
This book is incredibly special to me because it's the first book I bought with my own money. I was 9, and I had Christmas money from relatives. We stopped on the way home from my grandparents' house to go to Best Buy so my brother could spend his money and there was a Barnes n Noble next door, and I got to go there ALONE to pick out a book. And I bought this, and read it all the way home. :3

I really need to re-read it, because I'm not sure if my 9-year-old self had very discerning tastes, lol.
Dec 19, 2020 marked it as did-not-finish
Review also available on my blog The Shameful Narcissist Speaks.

The Riddle of the Wren is the type of old school fantasy novel I would’ve devoured in my younger, high school days. Published in 1984, it’s exactly the thing that would’ve caught my fancy, and while I started reading Charles de Lint during that time, I cut my teeth on his later works, and this one flew under my radar. You can definitely tell he was a fledgling author in this novel, and it turns out Riddle is his first. Like so many
May 25, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: the-worst, dnf
Poor writing and a very basic plot. DNF after a few chapters because it's really that bad. ...more
Jul 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Alright, so this is the first older book I've read in a while, and it might be making me a bit biased. Writing styles change throughout the decades and going from 2010-2020 back to the 80s was a little jarring. It took me a while to adjust.

That said, I really liked this book. The world building was good, and the emphasis and folklore is something I often miss in modern fantasy. I would have liked it even better if this had been a series. So much is packed into this one small book that it goes a
Oct 25, 2017 rated it liked it
I wasn’t as impressed with this book as I was with the others I’ve read by this author. It was his first, apparently, and I felt like it showed. The writing was pretty good but didn’t stand out, and while some aspects of the concept and setting were interesting, the story and characters didn’t feel particularly original. I’m not sure how much of it is stylistic, and how much of it is the author’s improvement over time, but this one didn’t quite do it for me.

I know it’s not fair to write a revie
May 17, 2018 rated it liked it
A fairly decent read overall, compared to my other foray into DeLint's bibliography,"Moonheart" (which I loathed). An interesting tentative to write a high fantasy with a tantalizing worldbuilding but still a character-oriented story.
Not perfect, the worlds feel a bit too sketchy and 2-dimensional.
Jan 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing
My mother bought me this book and it has been one of my most favorite books since childhood. There's something beautifully simplistic about it's story but it manages to get a deeper meaning across even in part that one overlooks. The main character's growth is wonderful to watch even if at some points you'll want to strangle her. ...more
Mar 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this book as a teenager, I decided to enter the world of dreams again.

Big takeaways, you are not responsible for the choices of others and listen to half of what tinkers say and only believe a quarter of that.
Nov 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed the story. Interesting worlds
Dec 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
Just...not very good. Meh.
Jan 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Excellent world building and complete in one book!!!!! Reminded me overall of Tolkein....on a much simpler plain.
Katharine Lumley
3.5 Stars
Mar 21, 2017 added it
I loved this book when I was younger, enough so that I recently ordered a copy to read aloud with my daughters, ages 16, 15 & 12. I'm crossing my fingers that they enjoy the story as much as I did when I first came upon it. ...more
Audrey Cullen
Nov 18, 2018 rated it liked it

I loved the unique folklore setting of this book, but at times it grew a bit slow and I found my self having to reread sections. It was quite slow- paced, so it took me longer than it should’ve taken for me to finish. I do respect Charles de Lint’s detailed setting descriptions.
Dec 11, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011, young-adult
This one is better than Harp of the Grey Rose by far, but it is still nowhere close to being on par with his current books. It is a little bit dated - my opinion would probably be better if I'd read it back in the 80's while this sort of plot was still in fashion.

The good - There were echoes of his current themes - strong female main characters from sad backgrounds, gods that gain their power from their worshipers, the dreaming realm, etc.

The bad - The main character being physically abused in t
“She lay there, waiting for sleep to come, but the excitement of what she had just done kept her awake. It was only the first step of – how long a journey? Did it matter? It was enough to be free of Hadon and of the inn, to be responsible only to herself… and the promise she made to the moorman.” p. 40

I have been reading de Lint’s wonderful fantasy for years. I looked over my reading list here and I seem to average one de Lint book per year. He is definitely an author worth revisiting.

This nove
Lauren Giova
Sep 14, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: High Fantasy readers who want a slight break from it.
I rather enjoyed this book. I felt for the character in all her struggles even if i couldn't identify with her. Minda was innocent enough but she wasn't weak. I can't stand weak or indecisive characters. I understand that in some points in the story there are going to be times when these two characteristics will show themselves but they have to be sparing and believable. De Lint was definitely able to keep the balance.
The glossary in the back of the book was a plus when i didn't understand so
Jul 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: epic-fantasy
The Riddle of the Wren is not the first Charles de Lint book I have read. However, it is the first time I've read a book set in his own created worlds (previous reads were set in Farmer's Dungeon series). Many people had given the book very good reviews.

So, I tracked it down...and WOW! This book was exactly what I had hoped for. The story had a flow about it that I found very easy to get immersed in.

The first thing I noticed was just how likable the main character, Minda, really is. As a reade
Jun 29, 2009 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This was actually the first book I had ever read by Charles de Lint. It was over 15 years ago when I came across this book at the bookstore and absolutely had to find out what happened inside such a stunning cover. Needless to say I fell in love with the story and the amazing imagination of the author. It is one of those stories that one seems to come across every now and then when they are in need of an adventure. This one totally delivered and is one that I get reacquainted with just about eve ...more
Feb 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011-reads
This was not the best fantasy I've read lately, and I know (well, strongly believe) I'm going to read at least one this year that will dwarf its quality by a magnitude I can't calculate. BUT...

there pretty much has to be a but here, right?

BUT...this character, this world (better, these worlds), the supporting characters...there's something about them all that just works. More than works, charms you and wins you over.

de Lint does a great job of introducing the incremental changes happening to Min
Melissa Prange
Oct 06, 2011 rated it did not like it
When I started this book, I expected it to be your average young adult fantasy novel. My expectations were met until I reached the one hundred page mark. At that point, everything began cascading downhill. This mostly had to do with the fact that a giant, telepathic, wizard badger appeared. I can deal with this sort of thing in comedic fantasy novels, but Charles de Lint takes himself too seriously and his seriousness is the cause of many unintentionally funny moments from this point on. The sto ...more
Daniel Goldberg
Feb 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: YA fantasy enjoyers
This was a pretty interesting page turner that for some reason took me a while to read. It knocked me off my goal of a book a week for 2012, which confuses me because I found it pretty interesting. I think it might have to do with the first seventh or eighth of the book being a little boring but looking back it really wasn't that boring, plus this is a young adult book so I don't know what I was expecting.

The book doesn't have a crazy complicated plot that takes hundreds of pages to flesh out b
Apr 05, 2012 rated it did not like it
Still struggling through this book after 6 months. Just not very much to keep me interested (or awake). The plot ideas are somewhat interesting, but I've seen them before. Abandoned Washington DC or NYC, anyone? Jumping from world to world. A main character plucked from nowhere is someone special. Will try to find a few hours to commit and see if the book pulls me in. If not, I doubt I'll finish it.

Here I am again about 3 months later. Still only about 1/2 way through. The writing is sooooo bad
Aug 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who enjoys fantasy books
Recommended to Debra by: Fellow attendee at Shadow Con in 1986
I was given a copy of this book at Shadow Con which was a convention for the miniseries V. I have an original copy which is locked up as well as a reprinted copy for reading. Charles de Lint is a master storyteller who weaves details in and around Celtic myths and magic. His characters are so lifelike that I would not be surprised to meet any of them and this includes the non-human ones. Mindy is a young woman whose past is mysterious. Her step-father runs an inn and often treats Mindy harshly. ...more
Oct 20, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: junior-yr
This book was about a girl named Minda, who was haunted by dreams created by Illdran, a dream master. She ends up searching for this Illdran and travel between different worlds. At the end, she discovers who she really was, and what she must do will save the world.
When I first pick up this book, I could not get myself interested in reading this. But after to first hundred of pages, i could not put it down. But overall i thought it was not very original. Even though i read a lot of adventure and
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Charles de Lint is the much beloved author of more than seventy adult, young adult, and children's books. Renowned as one of the trailblazers of the modern fantasy genre, he is the recipient of the World Fantasy, Aurora, Sunburst, and White Pine awards, among others. Modern Library's Top 100 Books of the 20th Century poll, conducted by Random House and voted on by readers, put eight of de Lint's b ...more

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